(This is an ongoing screenplay published on PirateMTL.com)
Chapter 1: Winded
Tisha Rockwood sat in her car with her head buried in her hands. It was a cold day for so early in March. She knew she would have to face them sooner or later. My family, she thought to herself as the wind whistled through the cracks and openings in her old Mazda.
Five years, yet it feels like only yesterday… She opened her car door. The heavy creak and pulling of old metal dulled her ear, much like a bass line under water. As she stepped onto the cold pavement she saw Barry. Pulling up in his white tank, as he likes to call it.
She wrestled the old door closed through a horrible grinding of rusted parts. She then turned to greet her brother. He was as tall as she remembered, with his dark suit dragging out behind him as he walked with all the charisma of an onyx rock star. As tall as he was smart, Barry always dressed to impress and usually did. With strong hands and a soft heart, Tisha was honestly surprised he still hadn’t married or even maintained a proper relationship for that matter. He was bald by choice, but wore a knitted cap with matching scarf to keep the biting cold off his ears. “Tisha, my oh my do you ever look good!” he said through a labored smile that took her by surprise.“Still driving dads old crap heap eh?” he chuckled, taking great care to analyse the elderly whip. She cocked her head and went for the slight. “Still wreaking havoc on the environment with your monster?” “Yea, and it does a great job” he said without hesitation. “Has Alex made it yet?” Tisha paused to have a look at the cars parked around the neighborhood. The street was deserted and seemed overall to be lurking without a measure of sound.
During their stay at the Rockwood family home, the street was the proving grounds for all the neighborhood children. Whether it was skipping rope, racing bikes or dodging cars, the street was the only play grounds they needed. Tisha had come up here and expected the same childhood wonder to beget her. But she was there now, blaming the frost and wind for the lack of youthful energy on the old street she turned back to Barry. “I don’t think so.” “Guess Alex is late. Should we start without him?” he asked with a face on that said he truly does not care what I think. “Well I’m not staying here to freeze to death waiting for him” she said as she pulled her hemp made handbag up her slender shoulders to get a better grip. Once she started towards the house the cold gripped her. I haven’t been in the doorway in five years.
The door handle was an old latch design spun like a twist of rope with a shelf on top to leverage the door open. She pressed down on the lever and her heart was caught in her throat. Barry had spent the better part of the day deciding what to wear. What do you wear to shovel a life away? He thought to himself in a gloom. It was a long process of digging, throwing and thinking. Barry hadn’t been this conflicted since his prom night: a gala event with warm light and warmer people all treasuring their life and memories of the past years together. Prom was easy compared to this day and by a long shot. Today was the day Barry, Tisha and Alex had to go to the family home they hadn’t seen in half a decade to pack up, and essentially bury, their fathers memories in some cold storage facility. I have to dress well, it’s expected of me… his thoughts felt as cold in his ears as the ground outside.
After his lengthy, messy process of getting the perfect suit. an auburn tie around his white shirt collar matched well to his dark coat and pants. As he reached for the copper handle of the door to his apartment, he noticed his old hat and scarf from a few years past and forgotten. He had been seeing Cindy for a few weeks, it was fire. Cindy was light in personality, complexion and attitude. The very opposite of heavy, serious, Barry Rockwood. She always focused on the best parts of the worst situations. She did her best to share warmth and happiness with all those around her. She was everything he wanted to make a life out of and her simply being there made him more. Cindy, however, could hardly be said to be as eager or as ready to anchor herself by his side.Therefore, when the opportunity to chase her career in the great state of Texas arose, and saw no reason, besides Barry, to consider staying in Rhode Island. She walked out of his life, not before she gave him a kiss, her hat and her matching scarf. “Don’t be sad Barry, we had this and it is real. We will be together someday I’m sure” The cold sting of her words stuck with him for longer than he’d admit. He was never into pre-destiny, and he felt it was too convenient on her guilty heart to blame “the Future” as she called it. Who did I upset in a past life to have earned such a cold balk? He’d thought it for far too long.
Collecting himself, he grabbed the two and made his way out. As he started his white Escalade in the grey and dull concrete parking space, he had to take a breath and hold his head in his hands for a moment. My family. Five years is a long enough time. He pulled his head up out of his hands and with a deep, meditative breath and got on the road. It wasn’t till he saw his sister getting out of her car across the street, that he realized he wasn’t okay with this whole day.
Tisha was still as small as he remembered. She never wore a hat, God forbid she cover but a fraction of her long, black curls, pouring from her head like a cascading waterfall. He always respected her environmentalist and Vegan lifestyle. She was good about not pushing it on people she liked and respected, while always finding a way to look classy instead of the hipster frump-people.
As he pulled up, he heard the awful sound of Tisha’s car door wrenching to a close. He pulled up to the side of the street and put his car at rest across from hers and hopped out in one fluid motion. His coat billowed behind him and he immediately regretted not doing it up. “Tisha, my oh my do you look good!” he said pushing the nicest smile he could manage. “Still driving dads crap heap?” he tried to say as loosely and friendly as possible. “still wreaking havoc on the environment with your monster?” she shot back, immediately deflating the attitude he was trying to project while simultaneously pushing his buttons. “Yea, and it does a great job” he fired back with no patience whatsoever.
He looked around to see if the third of their trio had arrived. As he looked around he couldn’t help remember the old days here. As the oldest on the street everyone looked to him to come up with the best games. He was always looked up to and everyone thought it was a thrill to have him around. The thought made him suddenly feel ashamed, he hit high school three years before his brother, the next oldest on the street but as young as most of the kids. So he made new friends, and one day like a flash, hanging out on the street just wasn’t cool enough anymore.
They wanted him to come play and he wanted nothing to do with them. The thought made his guts turn. “Has Alex made it yet?” he asked to distract from his sorrows. She turned and looked up the street. Her street he thought. After he left his sister had taken the reins of head game changer. As the youngest, it was fun to see how much they respected her, not to mention her two older brothers made her a tough nut to crack over the years. She turned around to him and replied “I don’t think so.” Disappointment painted his face “Guess Alex is late. Should we start without him?” “Well I’m not staying here to freeze to death waiting for him” she said bitterly as she adjusted her cruelty free purse and started walking to the house they shared as children. Almost on cue, his heart started thumping in line with Tisha’s steps. I haven’t stepped foot in this house since I really tore into mom and dad.
His memories of that day were bitter and cold as the weather. The sound of his sisters boots up the hardwood steps felt like the knock of the grim reaper at the end of the road. As she turned the handle to the door his heart went from steady thump to big band cacophony. As the door creaked open, the way it always had. Alex is seen on the family room floor sitting in front of the TV with a big bowl of cereal. he turns to see his brother and sister standing in the doorway. He gives them a big toothy grin “Sup guys?” he holds the bowl out towards them. “Fruit loops?”
(Part 2 can be read here)
Written by: AJ Rheault